Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most hazardous gases found in the home. Known as the “silent killer,” CO gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating, yet it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage or death. As a result, more than 400 people die of accidental carbon monoxide exposure each year, a higher fatality rate than any other type of poisoning.
As the weather cools off, you close up your home for the winter and count on heating appliances to keep warm. This is when the risk of carbon monoxide inhalation is highest. The good news is you can protect your family from carbon monoxide in several ways. One of the most efficient methods is to install CO detectors in your home. Use this guide to help you understand where carbon monoxide can appear from and how to make the most of your CO alarms.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. As a result, this gas is generated whenever a fuel source is burned, including natural gas, propane, oil, charcoal, gasoline, woo, and more. Prevalent causes of carbon monoxide in a house include:
No, smoke detectors do not detect carbon monoxide. In fact, they sound an alarm when they sense a certain concentration of smoke generated by a fire. Having dependable smoke detectors reduces the risk of dying in a house fire by nearly 55 percent.
Smoke detectors come in two primary modes—ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. Ionization detection works best with fast-growing fires that produce large flames, while photoelectric detection is more effective with smoldering, smoky fires. Some newer smoke detectors come with both types of alarms in a single unit to increase the chance of sensing a fire, no matter how it burns.
Obviously, smoke detectors and CO alarms are both important home safety devices. If you look up at the ceiling and notice an alarm of some kind, you won’t always know whether it’s a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide alarm. The visual difference depends on the brand and model you have. Here are a few factors to consider:
The number of CO alarms you need depends on your home’s size, number of floors and bedroom arrangement. Follow these guidelines to guarantee thorough coverage:
Depending on the model, the manufacturer may recommend monthly tests and resetting to ensure proper functionality. Also, replace the batteries in battery-powered units every six months. For hardwired units, replace the backup battery every year or when the alarm starts chirping, whichever comes first. Then, replace the CO detector entirely every 10 years or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
It only takes a minute to test your CO sensor. Check the instruction manual for directions specific to your unit, knowing that testing follows this general procedure:
Swap out the batteries if the unit fails to perform as expected for the test. If replacement batteries don’t make a difference, replace the detector immediately.
You only have to reset your unit when the alarm goes off, after testing the device or after changing the batteries. Some models automatically reset themselves within 10 minutes of these events, while others require a manual reset. The instruction manual will note which function applies.
Follow these steps to reset your CO detector manually:
If you don’t hear a beep or see a flash, attempt the reset again or replace the batteries. If it’s still not working, troubleshoot your carbon monoxide alarm with help from the manufacturer, or replace the detector.
Follow these steps to protect your home and family:
With the right precautions, there’s no need to fear carbon monoxide exposure in your home. In addition to installing CO alarms, it’s worthwhile to maintain your fuel-burning appliances, especially as winter starts.
The team at Knochelmann Service Experts is qualified to inspect, clean, diagnose and repair problems with furnaces, boilers, water heaters and other combustion appliances. We know what signs suggest a potential carbon monoxide leak— such as excessive soot, rusted flue pipes and a yellow, flickering burner flame—along with the necessary repairs to resolve them.
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